Looking at the contemporary art scene is not an easy task. Especially because the cutouts, themes, platforms and diversity are the size of planet Earth.
One way that I always prefer is to find something in the artwork that takes me out of the comfort zone and that brings me the possibility of thinking about the challenges, the motivations and the work process that the artist had to achieve at the piece or work. Thus, looking at Contemporary Art under the bias of its locality and geography also has an effect, since, for obvious reasons, regional and cultural differences will greatly influence the way of looking and doing Art.
So far from being a list or ranking on the best of Contemporary Art, I bring my personal gaze to what, lately, has drawn my attention, for the above reasons. In a panorama that passes from the United States to Japan, each of the artists mentioned here have a work that dialogues both with the environment that surrounds them and, especially, with their concerns as individuals and in the reflection that their art can have in the world.
I begin with the Chinese-based artist Jian Ce, who has a painting work whose most recent result is a very direct relationship with the digital world - the result of painting looks like computer generated images. Another Chinese artist is Qin Jun, whose work flirts with the abstract in spatial plays that stimulate cognition and the senses.
Finally, Xu Qu, a rising star of contemporary Chinese art, able to work with consecrated materials from the local tradition, such as ceramics, to large metal installations.
From Japan, I emphasize an artist from the photography field - Takayuki Maekawa, whose themes and frameworks show a dramatic and dynamic nature that remind us of his efforts to achieve the images.
From South Korea, I have been accompanying Joonho Jeon, with a consolidated work, and well-known for the executions in digital platforms and videoanimations; and Oh Yong-Seok, a multimedia artist who emphasizes the past and the present, and the real and the imaginary, creating a visual collage of still images, moving images in both animation and film.
When we go to Russia, impossible not to quote Georgy Guryanov. Deceased early in 2013, he was certainly one of the most important contemporary Russian artists, with a strong presence in the underground culture, and who turned his life an incessant search for beauty, for the aesthetic, and he could also go through other arts, as music, theater and cinema.
In Europe, I highlight the Swiss Nicolas Party, with works in various fields. His themes, which show minimalist and colorful representations of plants, domestic animals and other typical still life objects, have a charm that denies their technical rigor quite accurate. Party also works with murals and for projects on large scales.
Still in Europe, specifically in Spain, I really enjoy the work of the Regina de Miguel, whose contemporary basis happens to deliver works on photographs, installations, video and other records about issues such as the construction of reality and the role of language in humanity.
From Africa, I have been following two artists with works in digital media. The first is the Angolan Nástio Mosquito, which is based on performance, coupled with other diverse languages, such as cinema, music, installation and digital art. The guy has its own App, a must download. In addition, the South African Tracey Rose brings great vigor to the contemporary art of the continent, exploring the performance of the body, its limits and borders, and the relationships of this performatic body with the environment. Always evident in her work is the artist's insistence on confronting identity politics, including sexual, racial and gender issues, and using performance (with great references from the 1960s and 1970s) as the main platform for discussing all of this.
From Latin America, I highlight the Colombian Oscar Murillo, whose works are fundamentally linked to the environment where he produces them. He also manages collaborative works, in interventions on canvas type fabric, stimulating people of different shades to participate in the construction of the work. The Mexican Ana Sara Zamorano has had great prominence from that country, with works that are based on traditional painting, always in the exploration of a very accurate technique of drawing and painting. And, for finishing this region, I also accompany the work of Brazilian Walter Rocha, who transits between art and product design, using nature with a starting point and inspiration.
Finally, from Canada I really like Mega McGrath, who is labeled as a multidisciplinary artist and designer. Her main discipline is the art of writing, but she also focuses on calligraphy, type and letter design, large scales, and various media.
And for the United States, I bring Julia Rommel, based in Brooklyn, known for her practice of stretching and retracting the canvas while she works, resulting in a visual and almost sculptural image recording as color fields are built on top from one to the other. Also from US, Josh Smith, New York's renowned visual artist, whose works include collage, sculpture, books, etchings and ceramics, as well as paintings featuring letters of his own name as a theme. Finally from US, Ellen Hanson, who lives in Chicago, whose work transits through post-romantic landscapes and scenes where the painting traditions of voyeurism and sublime intersect through contemporary spaces, where technology is the tonic of encounters and mismatches of the day to day. By the way, her projects also include an exploration of the shape of the canvas, imposing new perspectives and volumes on the design plane. She is undoubtedly the one I would mostly highlight from this US list.
It's quite a list. And it's worth starting your own research on the work of these artists and choose the ones that speak to you most from the heart. As we know, if there is one thing that does not change in art, it is your ability to thrill and make us different after contemplating it. At least, what we classify as good and worthwhile, gives us that.
Daniel da Hora
Brazilian Graphic designer, art director, fine artist and entrepreneur.
With a Post Graduation in Communication and Semiotics, he's written three books in this field of knowledge. As an artist, he has participated in individual and collective exhibitions in Brazil and in several other countries, such as Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, United States and France. His works permeates various techniques, from drawing, painting, to image relations with photography technologies and digital manipulation. At last, his the Cultural Director and Curator of Abelardo da Hora Institute, one of the most important artistic and cultural entities from Brazil.